FOXBORO — Tom Brady, take a bow.
Not for being the perennial superstar, MVP candidate and the best player to ever wear the New England Patriots uniform.
Not for the Patriots’ performance last night and potential matchup with Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos next Sunday, though that will be memorable and worth a bow.
This is more special than that. It’s time to acknowledge what Brady has done in 2013 (and now 2014). He has traded in those thrilling, statistical, weekly games to win a Super Bowl.
In other words, we have “old school” Tom Brady back and in business.
It all started, at least the old school part, in late February when details of Brady’s new contract were released. Five years were added on for $57 million, including $30 million guaranteed, with the last three years at $9 million per.
Among football players at his level, that is chump change, particularly the last three years. We all thought that new deal meant more money finally for his best buddy, Wes Welker.
We were wrong.
Welker was gone for pennies, relatively speaking. And worse, he was joining Brady’s biggest counterpart, Peyton Manning, in Denver.
And then Brady’s once-mighty corps of receivers started falling like flies, not to mention a few offensive lineman and three or four of the top five defensive players on the roster.
Honestly, few people predicted this, particularly with Brady entering the “twilight” years of his career at age 37 when the season started in September.
What we didn’t predict was Brady’s ability to separate himself from Peyton Manning’s Video Game-like season from Day 1. You have to understand, there is a real competition between these two. While there is a mutual respect — you will never hear a bad word about the other guy — they follow the other as if they were each other’s fantasy QB.